No matter your stance on watches as “investments”, or a new alternative “asset class”, it can’t be denied that the secondary market values of these objects traditionally worn on the wrist have jumped in recent years.
Let's discover the best investment watches of 2023, that you can request and buy with Crypto on BitDials.
ROLEX GMT MASTER II (REF. 16710)
As a premier flagship steel sports Rolex model, arguably any iteration of the Rolex GMT Master can be considered an investment piece due to the iconic status the watch holds in Rolex’s lineup and pop culture. However, particularly in the 16710 produced from 1989 through 2007, we see an “end of an era” in true tool watch form before Rolex makes the switch to upgraded materials decidedly more luxury leaning such as a ceramic bezel, updated bracelet and maxi dial and case size.
Available with the iconic red and blue “Pepsi” bezel insert, the black and red “Coke” insert, or the all-black bezel variation, the 16710 is heralded by collectors for its iconic looks and tool watch practicality. And with its 40mm case diameter, 12.4mm thickness, 47.5mm lug-to-lug, and 20mm lug width, we have classic case size proportions suitable for various wrists for those who find the modern variant a bit too large.
PATEK PHILIPPE NAUTILUS 5711
Another darling of the watch-collecting zeitgeist (perhaps THE darling), the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711, discontinued in 2021, is perhaps a surefire addition to any watch investment portfolio. Originally debuting in 2006 with several references among its ilk in steel, gold, platinum, and gem set beauties over the years, the 5711 was not actually all that popular upon its initial release.
With its 40mm diameter case, svelte 8.3mm thickness, and that iconic Gerald Genta case design (call them “ears”, and you’ll never unsee it again), the stellar casework and finishing combined with a top-of-the-line comfort on the wrist meant that what was once under the radar and eclipsed by its kin such as the reference 5712, would soon see eventual success with the more recent craze of steel sports integrated bracelet watches (which I dub the “Genta Wave”).
Another case of an overlooked watch becoming a hit under all the right conditions: The brand heritage of Patek, the storytelling X-Factor of Genta design, and the rarity of steel sports Patek watches all almost guaranteed the success of the 5711 which would eventually see auction results more than six times its MSRP.
ROLEX SUBMARINER (REF. 114060)
Quick exercise: Picture a watch in your head. Any watch. What did you see? Chances are, you saw a dive watch with a black rotating bezel, a black dial with white hands and indices on the archetypal oyster bracelet. Its name? The Rolex Submariner.
Originally launched in 1953, the Rolex Submariner and its Date counterpart (there is truly only the “Submariner” and “Submariner Date” in official Rolex terms) are definitive icons not only in the watch community but in the broader world community as well. If Rolex is the most famous luxury watch brand, the Submariner is, by default, its most iconic watch.
And you don’t have to take (pre-Brosnan era) James Bond’s word for it, or everyone who decided to mark a milestone in their lives by purchasing a Submariner in the decades since. Among its evolutionary line, the 114060 is a particularly interesting watch from an investment standpoint. Being the last of the 40mm case size Submariners (replaced by the 41mm 124060 in 2020), the 114060 actually came out a year after its date steel counterpart (116610LN).
With a shorter run than the 116610LN and its relatively smaller overall production numbers (with the Date version eclipsing the Submariner with an estimated 2:1 ratio), the 114060 occupies a unique slot within the Submariner lineup as a safe investment given the overall popularity of the Submariner line, and the relative rarity the 114060 presents within it.
AUDEMARS PIGUET ROYAL OAK 15202 “JUMBO”
An icon, and one of the most popular watches on the planet, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15202 “Jumbo” was discontinued in 2021. Discontinue any watch of the 15202’s iconic stature and status, and you’ll almost always find a safe placeholder in your watch collection.
After all, if an uber-popular watch isn’t being made anymore and fewer and fewer can be found, rarity and price sensitivity ensue. Acting as a clear call back to the original steel Royal Oak as designed by Gerald Genta, the contemporary 15202 was announced in 2012 as part of the 40th anniversary of the Royal Oak.
In the years since, we’ve seen various stunning interpretations of the 15202 in White Gold (15202BC), Titanium and Platinum (15202IP), and even full Yellow Gold (15202BA). But, it’s arguably the original steel reference (15202ST) that is the definitive luxury sports watch.
After all, the Royal Oak is the original luxury sports watch. With a 39mm size case, 8.1mm thickness, powered by the calibre 2121, and finished to perfection, anyone lucky enough to have the 15202 on their wrist has already made it; investment potential be damned.
OMEGA SPEEDMASTER FIRST OMEGA IN SPACE (REF. 3220.127.116.11.01.001)
When speaking of brand icons, the Omega Speedmaster is a genuine archetype. Nearly synonymous with the achievements of NASA in the space age for watch geeks, it was the Speedmaster CK2998 worn on the wrist of astronaut Wally Schirra (his own, purchased privately) that holds the title of the first Omega watch in space, dating back to October 3rd, 1962 on the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission.
It was in commemoration of Schirra’s achievement (orbiting the Earth six times onboard the Sigma 7 spacecraft) that Omega decided to launch the 60th-anniversary reference to the original in the “First Omega In Space” Speedmaster (FOIS) in 2012.
Now discontinued in 2020, the FOIS took inspiration from the original CK2998 with its 39.7mm diameter case size and symmetrical straight lugs (as opposed to the now emblematic twisted lugs of the “Professional” Speedmaster) worn on a leather strap, anticipating an era of vintage leaning aesthetics in a contemporary watch design that continues to this day.
From an investment standpoint, we have here in the FOIS a variant of an all-out watch archetype with a limited eight-year production run (an estimated 15,000-16,000 made based on numbered edition marked watches listed on the secondary market), with a vintage fit and appeal no longer available in the Speedmaster line.
PATEK PHILIPPE AQUANAUT 5968G-010
The heavy hitters continue. It was John Mayer who once described the Patek Philippe Aquanaut as “the Chuck Taylor version of Patek Philippe”. If you can afford one, or even afford the opportunity to buy one, count yourself among the lucky. For when even a watch’s composite rubber strap is highly collectible, you know the timepiece it’s attached to is even more special.
Often thought of as the more affordable alternative to the Nautilus and supposedly geared towards a younger demographic, aside from the flex and literal buy-in required to purchase the watch, at its core, Mayer’s assertion is correct.
Available in Khaki Green (Electric Blue and Bright Orange variants exist, among others), with a modern 42.2mm diameter and 11.9mm thickness, the grenade-like dial and vibrance of the Aquanaut imbue the wearer with the ultimate sense of high-low in watch wear.
The best of old-world watchmaking and finishing with the Patek name and brand values (cue in the precious metal white gold case material), with the modern and punchy design to take a kicking and keep on ticking. These characteristics make the Aquanaut a highly in-demand model to this day.
AUDEMARS PIGUET ROYAL OAK OFFSHORE CHRONOGRAPH (REF. 26470OR.OO.1000OR.01)
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph (26470OR) was first introduced in 2014. Featuring a pink gold case, bracelet, and dial, encased in a 42mm diameter and 14.6mm thickness water resistant to 100m, the Offshore Chronograph is an unabashed luxury sports watch.
With the Offshore line being traditionally a testing ground for Audemars Piguet in materials, limited edition models, and endorsements, this particularly robust (read “massive”) Offshore is a thick chunk of pink rose gold material, accentuated with an integrated bracelet recalling the original Royal Oak beauty of yore, while coupled with ceramic crown surrounds and chronograph pushers, a remarkably modern addition, along with a sapphire display case back.
AP is truly at the top of the game with their level of finishing and refinement, and it’s no wonder that the dichotomy of the Offshore’s seemingly uncharacteristic bold and rough sportiness coupled with a sense of ultra sophistication has created one of the more popular watches for collectors of the brand to date. In terms of investment, sometimes you need to spend money to make money, and the Offshore is indeed one fun way to do it.
VACHERON CONSTANTIN OVERSEAS 4500V BROWN DIAL
At Vacheron Constantin’s 2016 showing at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), the third generation of the Overseas (4500V) was released to much fanfare. In blue and silver dial variations, the updates over the previous generation Overseas models (all the way back to 1996) showed us that the Overseas was a line that again deserved to be in the conversation alongside outside brand rivals in the Royal Oak and Nautilus integrated bracelet, steel sports range.
Featuring a 41mm stainless steel case in tonneau style, the 4500V is 11mm thick and water resistant to 150 meters. The movement is protected against magnetic fields up to 25,000 A/m with its soft iron casing ring and is available on a steel bracelet, rubber, or leather strap.
And while the blue and silver dial variants are drool-worthy in their own right with their refinement and build quality, it was the brown dial 4500V/110A-B146 variant released in May 2016, a few months after SIHH, that’s a particularly good investment for the discerning collector as it was discontinued only one year later.
ROLEX COSMOGRAPH DAYTONA (REF. 116500LN)
No surprises here; The Rolex “Panda” Daytona (116500LN) makes the list. With a history going as far back as 1963, the first Cosmograph chronograph was decidedly not a hit. Despite its associations with the Daytona Speedway 24-Hour endurance race (of which Rolex became the official timekeeper for in the 60s), it was a watch famously sold off at a heavy discount and often coupled with the purchase of full gold Datejusts in the 70s and 80s (anecdotal, but you catch my drift) which were the best sellers at the time.
In other words, it was the unwanted outcast of the bunch. But where unpopularity ends, rarity and scarcity take hold. Throw in the celebrity factor (insert Paul Newman), and keen heads began to take note. Ultimately, we know the modern ceramic Daytona as one of the most unattainable watches at retail in current times, with supposed waitlists in the double-digit years.
And yet, regardless of the hype and phenomenon that accompanies the Daytona legend, we have a watch that at its core has evolved on a technical level with the calibre 4130 (quiet progress; Rolex’s way) in a 904L Oystersteel case and bracelet, measuring 40mm in diameter (officially; on the wrist, it’s closer to a 39mm) and 12.2mm thick. All of which to say, a watch that wears perfectly. Whether you purchase it for the hype or investment purposes or to simply enjoy it on your wrist, you won’t find disappointment here.
OMEGA SPEEDMASTER “ALASKA PROJECT” (REF.318.104.22.168.04.001)
Timeline: the early 1970’s. NASA is considering exploration of the dark side of the moon; Omega develops an outer case for the Speedmaster watch to help withstand the harsh and extreme temperatures of Outer Space. Its name: “Alaska Project”. Fast forward to 2008, when Omega decides to release a limited and numbered edition of the “Alaska Project’ to the public, in 1970 pieces available world wide in commemoration of its historic exploits.
With it’s stark white dial, contrasted against the now iconic sub dial “Apollo Hands”, the Alaska Project Speedmaster is an otherwise standard Speedmaster Professional case and calibre 1861 movement that also features a large red-anodized aluminum outer case (57mm diameter x 23mm thick) which when coupled to the watch, enables it to withstand temperatures between -148 degrees celsius, to +250 degrees celsius. It’s big, it’s bold, and it’s rare.
Source : Exquisite Timepieces